New Posts

Frog of the Week

Hamilton’s Frog (Leiopelma hamiltoni)

Hamilton's Frog
photo by Alex Fergus

Common Name: Hamilton’s Frog
Scientific Name: Leiopelma hamiltoni
Family: Leiopelmatidae
Location: New Zealand

The Hamilton’s Frog is from an ancient lineage of frogs. They still retain some of the traits that the first frogs are thought to have had such as 9 presacral vertebrae, tail-wagging muscles, and the inability to make sound or croak.

The female frog lays between 11 to 15 eggs. They are a direct developing species, skipping a free living tadpole stage and just hatching directly into froglets. The males stay with the eggs until they hatch in 7 to 9 weeks. Then, the froglets take 3 to 4 years to reach sexual maturity.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assess the Hamilton’s Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. The frog has an incredible small range. They live only on Stephens Island, Maud Island, and Nukuwaiata Island in New Zealand. Deforestation and the introduction of rats and mustelids to New Zealand are thought to have drove the frogs to living only on these two islands.

Despite the small range, the frogs on the island are doing alright. Conservationists are working on expanding the range of the frogs by re-introducing the frog to their old range. In addition, most of the current range of the Hamilton’s Frog is a conservation area.

Frog of the Week

Mexican Shovel headed Frog (Triprion spatulatus)

Mexican Shovel Headed Frog
photo by Jorge Armín Escalante Pasos

Common Name: Mexican Shovel headed Frog, Duck billed Frog
Scientific Name: Triprion spatulatus
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Location: Mexico
Female Size: 3.0 – 4.0 inches (75 – 101 mm)
Male Size: 2.4 – 3.4 inches (61 – 87 mm)

The Mexican Shovel headed Frog lives in the forests of the western coast of Mexico. They are both an arboreal and nocturnal species. Their unique head shape is a tool they use to prevent water loss. During the hot day, they will find a hole in a tree to sit in and fill in the opening with their head. This decreases the amount of surface area exposed to the elements.

They breed during the rainy season from June to November. They come down from the trees to temporary pools filled by the rain. The males call out for the females.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Mexican Shovel headed Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The frog has a wide range and a presumed large population. There are currently no threats to the species.

Frog of the Week

Black webbed Flying Tree Frog (Rhacophorus reinwardtii)

Black-webbed Flying Tree Frog (Rhacophorus reinwardtii)
photo by Ganjar Cahyadi

Common Name: Black webbed Flying Tree Frog or Reinwardt’s Flying Frog
Scientific Name: Rhacophorus reinwardtii
Family: Rhacophoridae – Asian Tree Frog family
Location: Indonesia and Malaysia
Female Size: 2.2 – 3.1 inches (55.4 – 79.6 mm)
Male Size: 1.6 – 2.0 inches (41.6 – 52.5 mm)

The Black webbed Flying Tree Frog lives high in the canopy of the rain forests. They can use their highly webbed fingers to glide or “fly” from tree to tree. They come down to the ground to mate in pools, creating large breeding groups. Once the frogs finds a mate, they travel back up the tree to leaves overhanging the pool. The female creates a foam nest to protect the eggs from drying out. Next, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. Afterwards, both parents leave the eggs and provide no other parental care. Once the eggs hatch, the tadpoles fall into the pool below where they finish up their metamorphosis.

The scientific name honors Caspar Georg Carl Reinwardt, a Dutch botanist who helped founded the Bogor Botanical Gardens in Indonesia. Also, he described 2 species of snakes. I can’t find any info on if he was a good dude or not.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Black webbed Flying Tree Frog as Near Threatened with Extinction. The main threat to the frog is deforestation of the rain forests they call home to make room for farms, plantations, or homes.

Frog of the Week

Spotted Stream Frog (Pulchrana picturata)

Spotted Stream Frog (Pulchrana picturata)
photo by CheongWeei Gan

Common Name: Spotted Stream Frog
Scientific Name: Pulchrana* picturata
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Location: Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia
Size: 1.5 inches (40 mm) for males, 2.75 inches (70 mm) for females

The Spotted Stream Frog lives in the rain forests of Borneo. Juveniles and subadults live in the leaf litter while adults go to the streams to mate and then live there. The males call from perches above the stream. The female lays her eggs in the stream. The frog has a lot color variations with lines and or stripes on their body that can be orange or yellow.

On a note about the genus, Amphibiaweb lists it in the genus Pulchrana while Amphibians of the World puts them in Hylarana. In the genus, the frog is confused with two other species often – the Western Sunda Spotted Stream Frog (Pulchrana sundabarat) (a relatively new species) and the Striped Stream Frog (Pulchrana signata). Due to the color variations in the frogs, its hard to tell them apart except for their calls and genetics.

Spotted Stream Frog (Pulchrana picturata)
photo by Pylon Dale Imbun

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Spotted Stream Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. Deforestation could pose a threat to the frog down the line.

Frog of the Week

Harlequin Tree Frog (Rhacophorus pardalis)

Harlequin Tree Frog
photo by John Sullivan

Common Name: Harlequin Tree Frog and Panther Flying Frog
Scientific Name: Rhacophorus pardalis
Family: Rhacophoridae – Asian Tree Frog family
Location: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand
Size: 1.9 – 2.75 inches (50 – 70 mm)

The Harlequin Tree Frog lives in the primary and secondary rain forests but also peat swamp forests of southeast Asia. As tree frogs, they live high in the trees, making their life style secretive. They are able to move to tree to tree thanks to their highly webbed feet that allows them to “fly” or glide. The female frogs lay their eggs in foam nests that they whip up on vegetation that overhangs a pool of water.

Harlequin Tree Frog (Rhacophorus pardalis)
photo by Jason Teo Jia Hong

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assess the Harlequin Tree Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range and are thought to be numerous throughout it. However, clear cutting of forests is a significant threat to the frogs and will lead the frogs down a bad road unless something happens.

Frog of the Week

Mitchell’s Reed Frog (Hyperolius mitchelli)

Mitchell's Reed Frog
photo by wikiuser Coren

Common Name: Mitchell’s Reed Frog
Scientific Name: Hyperolius mitchelli
Family: Hyperoliidae – African Reed Frog family
Location: Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania
Size: 0.9 – 1.2 inches (23 – 32 mm)

The Mitchell’s Reed Frog has two distinct color phases J (juvenile) and F (female). All the frogs start out with the J color phase. Then before the first breeding season, all the mature females and some mature males change to the F color phase.

Females lay between 50 to 100 eggs on leaves overhanging water. Once the eggs hatch, the tadpoles fall into the water to complete their metamorphosis.

Mitchell's Reed Frog
photo by J. Walz

The Mitchell’s Reed Frog was originally described as a subspecies of the Spotted Reed Frog (Hyperolius puncticulatus) by British herpetologist Arthur Loveridge. He technically never says why he names it in his description of the species but he thanks Bernard Lindley Mitchell, a naturalist from the Nyasaland Game and Tsetse Departmen (this is 1940s)) for his information on herps in the area. The call of the Spotted Reed Frog and the Mitchell’s are different, thus they are different species.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Mitchell’s Reed Frog as Least Concern for Extinction because of their wide range and presumed large population.


Dwarf Crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)

Dwarf Crocodile
photo by wikiuser Thesupermat

Common Name:  Dwarf Crocodile and Broad-snouted Crocodile
Scientific Name: Osteolaemus tetraspis
Family: Crocodylidae – Crocodile family
Locations: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic; Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoirej, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo
Size: 4.9 feet (1.5 m)

The Dwarf Crocodile is the smallest living crocodile (Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) is the smallest living crocodilian). They are primarily nocturnal, spending the day hiding in pools or burrows. Their diet mostly consists of invertebrates such as crabs and gastropods. Other part of their diet is filled with frogs and fish. It is reported that they can live to 100 years old.

The crocodile lives in the tropical rain forests and swamps of western Africa. Females lay 10 – 14 eggs early in the wet season (May to June) on mounds they build. Then, the females will stay there to protect their offspring.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Dwarf Crocodile as Vulnerable to Extinction. They are over harvested for food and leather. Some areas of the range is threatened by deforestation.


Hell Hollow Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps diabolicus)

Hell Hollow Slender Salamander
photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Hell Hollow Slender Salamander
Scientific Name: Batrachoseps diabolicus
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamander family
Location: United States – California
Size: 1.77 inches (45 mm) snout to vent, 4.3 inches (110 mm) total length

The Hell Hollow Slender Salamander are most active during the cool rainy wet nights of late fall into winter. They come up from their underground burrows and can be more easily found under logs.

The salamanders are a member of the family Plethodontidae – the Lungless Salamander family. Since they don’t posses lungs, they breath through their skin. Like the other Plethodontid salamanders in the state, the Hell Hollow Salamander lays their eggs on lands. Once the eggs hatch, little salamanders emerge, skipping a free larvae phase.

The salamander is named after where it was originally found in Hell Hollow in Mariposa County, California. However, the salamander is found not only there but spread over the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has not assessed the Hell Hollow Slender Salamander since 2004 when they said they didn’t have enough info at the time. That’s almost 20 years, they need to get on this.

Frog of the Week

Harlequin Poison Frog (Oophaga histrionica)

Harlequin Poison Frog
photo by Daniel Vásquez-Restrepo

Common Name: Harlequin Poison Frog
Scientific Name: Oophaga histrionica
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Location: Colombia
Size: 1.3 inches (3.3 cm)

The Harlequin Poison Frog lives amongst the leaf litter of the Chocó region of western Colombia. The males call from up to a 3.2 feet (1 meter) off the ground to attract females. The female lays her eggs amongst the leaf litter. Once the eggs hatch, one of the parent carries the tadpole over to a water filled bromeliad to live for awhile. The mother comes to the tadpole and will lay an unfertilized egg for the tadpole to eat. The mother will need to do this until the tadpole completes its metamorphosis or else it will starve.

In 2018, researchers split the frog into four different species.

The frog is found in the pet trade but make sure you are buying captive bred individuals. However, some people in the pet trade aren’t fully up to date on the scientific literature and might be listing one of the species broken off from the Harlequin Poison Frog as it. Read my article Preparing for a Pet Frog or Toad to see if you are ready to get one as a pet.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Harlequin Poison Frog as Critically Endangered. Deforestation is the number one reason for the listing. Much of the habitat for the frog has sadly been lost now and the frog lives in small areas.


Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensis)

Chinese Alligator
photo by J. Patrick Fischer

Common Name: Chinese Alligator or Yangtze Alligator
Scientific Name: Alligator sinensis
Family: Alligatoridae – Alligator family
Locations: China
Size: 5 – 7 feet (1.5 – 2.1 meters)

The Chinese Alligator lives in slow moving, fresh water streams, rivers, lakes, swamps, and canals of the lower Yangtze River. While this might make you think it spends its summer days floating in the water, and soaking up the sun, the gator spends a lot of its time in its underground burrows. However, these aren’t your regular underground burrows, they have pools inside of them.

The Chinese Alligator is one of the two living species of the genus Alligator, the other being the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). The Chinese Alligator is smaller than the American, has more of an upturn snout, and bone-stomach plates called osteoderms.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Chinese Alligator as Critically Endangered. There is thought to be less than 100 mature individuals of the species left in the wild. How did this happen? First, in the past, the crocodile has been hunted a lot, like a lot. Next, lets destroy most of its habitat and pollute it. Amazing, impressive, wow no wonder why its critically endangered. Thanks China!